Mayor Rahm “The Godfather” Emanuel gave a major speech last Thursday, Sept. 22. Rahm was given the moniker “Godfather” by the media as he ran for mayor back in 2011. The nickname was based on his actions back in 1998 when he reportedly sent a political enemy a dead fish.
Our suburban-reared, ballet-dancing mayor, however, wasn’t prepared to deal with the kind of criminal elements we have here in Chicago. You know, send them the fish and they’ll cook and eat it, and send him back the bones.
Rahm gave his speech at the newly re-built Malcolm X College. The speech was focused on crime — in particular the murder and shooting mayhem that is currently plaguing our city. First and foremost, everyone who listened to that speech (and it was an invitation-only event) should have handed him and the band of 50 thieves, also known as aldermen, a mirror. For they have pilfered this city to its current economic state of financial mismanagement via their lackluster leadership that blindly goes along with whatever the mayor proposes — no matter how detrimental the action is to the average Jamal.
I listened to Rahm’s speech as it played over the radio. I tolerated about a third of it, screaming tirades back in response to the words and ideas he was promoting. Instead of a heartfelt acknowledgement of the problem, he was giving a recycled campaign speech that made him sound tough on crime while in essence highlighting himself. His voice cracked on queue for the police officer’s son, but not for the sons and daughters of all the people who have been killed in Chicago.
I know he was using Malcolm X College’s beautiful new edifice as a background so that those in attendance and those seeing it on television would be so enamored of that one good-looking deed, they would overlook the million bad ones.
Rahm’s speech wasn’t about repairing the ill he has wrought, following in the footsteps of his predecessor. Rather his focus was on policing the criminals with more police, police who have cameras to record the misdeeds (unless they are responsible for the misdeed at which time the cameras tend to malfunction); and even more penalties for those who participate in the misdeeds and wreak havoc.
I am a law-and-order kind of gal, yet Rahm’s words rang hollow. First and foremost, if he is gonna stand in a school named for an ex-convict who did a 180-degree turn in his life, then don’t dishonor the man by proffering platitudes instead of genuine solutions. It was Malcolm X who spoke these famous words: “To have once been a criminal is no disgrace. To remain a criminal is the disgrace.”
With the exception of parenting, none of what Rahm brought up will change the hearts and minds of our criminal element. Prison is a “rite of passage.” Death is expected before the age of 25. Hopeless despair is the norm. And worst of all, Rahm professes to love this city, but he doesn’t even sound like this city. His words didn’t speak of what ties us together. He didn’t recall what has made Chicago great and what he was going to do to make it better.
Programs like BAM (Becoming a Man) and My Brother’s Keeper are bandages. As our mayor, it has been over a year and a half since his re-election and his concrete plans to improve this city beyond his Building a New Chicago program should have already been in the works and offered as a solution. What his speech did was raise the stakes for those who haven’t been caught, as opposed to offering them an opportunity to be stakeholders at a different level.
If Malcolm Little could reinvent himself as Malcolm X, what is to stop our current class of criminals from remaining a disgrace? Sadly, that was not the theme of the mayor’s speech and thus what has been going on will continue on.
Now that is the absolute disgrace!